Unlike Before, I Now Take the Time to Enjoy Life

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by Athena Merritt |

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Slowing down has always been hard for me. As a kid, I’d squirm out of my mom’s hugs telling her, “I gotta go play.”  

While racing along, details often escape me. Which is why I overlooked the initial signs of my sarcoidosis.

The pandemic has changed my behavior. My new unhurried approach to life is a bright spot I plan to carry out of this horribleness.  

Juggling jobs and managing multiple chronic conditions, I always felt pressed for time. My focus was on racing to get things done before symptoms overwhelmed me. 

Walking a new path

The neighborhoods surrounding my home were just streets I rushed through on the way to someplace else. Unless roadwork or a traffic light halted my car’s progress, I didn’t notice much. 

With the arrival of statewide lockdowns here in March, meandering walks outside became a regular routine. The relaxation it brings, and considering just 20 minutes outdoors can reduce stress, I regret not making it a habit sooner.

Chatting it up

COVID-19 drastically changed the way we socialize, but it’s also made me reach out more to others. I’ve found it’s not just people I know that crave conversation, it’s strangers, too. We have more time for them now. 

Months ago, I spoke to the owner of a classic car for 30 minutes in the parking lot of a supermarket. In the past, complimenting him on his vehicle would have probably just drawn a quick “thanks” before we parted ways. Instead we shared the joys (and sometimes frustrations) of owning older cars: His is a 1993 Toyota MR2, and mine is a 2001 Audi TT. 

On another occasion, a grocery shopper stopped me at the door to ask about a tattoo on my forearm. Gazing at the two pink dragons, intertwined in the shape of a ribbon, she described surviving metastatic breast cancer that had spread to her brain. I told her of my mom’s own breast cancer survival, which had inspired our matching tattoos.  

Both chats were in the middle of the day when I normally would have been at work. But home is my only office now, and I set my own hours. 

Cherishing the hours

My responsibilities haven’t disappeared. Neither have my health issues. But what has is the constant pressure that I used to inflict on myself. 

I now do what I’m able in the hours that I have, recognizing that I won’t always succeed. Days have become more enjoyable because of it.


Brighter side: We all could use a break from bad news right now. So, I’ll be closing my columns with a roundup of positivity until we are able to say goodbye to masks, hug our loved ones, and leave our homes without fear.

  • Stamped with love: More than 100,000 cards from 110 countries go through Loveland, Colorado’s Valentine remailing program annually. For 75 years, the “Sweetheart City” has hand stamped each one with a special postmark and message. This year’s will be, “Let’s unite our hearts this Valentine’s Day. Our Sweetheart City will lead the way.” There’s still time to add that special touch to your own. Deadlines are Feb. 1 for international mail and Feb. 7 for U.S. mail. Learn more here. 
  • Chocolate bombs: The Morning Call reports on this chocolaty trend that has arrived for hot cocoa drinkers. “Chocolate bombs” are decorated spheres of chocolate filled with cocoa mix and marshmallows that “explode” when hot milk is poured over top.


Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.


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